"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

October 26, 2012

What's The Expectation Here?

As I am often exposed to, I find myself immersed into learning opportunities, as long as I can see them.  This week has provided just that through the challenges that I created.  It was one of those weeks that I just couldn't seem to find the level of motivation, inspiration, or energy that is needed in order to give to myself, and definitely needed in order to see my opportunities to give to others.  It happens, and without overthinking what I was feeling, I was still able to take care of my needs, while not resisting what I was experiencing.  I accepted where I was at, while embracing that this is just another lesson amongst many more to come.  I recognized that I must continue to practice what I speak to.  I trusted the process while embracing the necessary steps; want, belief, and commitment.  I approached these moments I was experiencing in a manner that allowed me to see an opening, versus a closing.  By doing this I was able to ask myself, what's the expectation here? Yeah, so?  Well, often we don't ask ourselves the needed questions that we may avoid or resist because it protects us.  It puts it (whatever that may be) away in that place that we may feel has our back, but quite honestly only makes us more vulnerable...

So, as I thought about what I wanted to share today I was influenced by an experience that came my way earlier today.  I took part in a collaborative meeting with a student (I am overseeing) and a colleague of mine/field faculty member.  My role in this meeting was not only as a facilitator of learning, but an extension of support, guidance, and availability.  The meeting was a great opportunity to once again model a positive example that we can give as helping professionals. The opportunity to provide feedback, direction, and validation to this student was not only necessary, but a powerful tool that can instruct, empower, and move one forward.  What happens as a result can provide awareness, growth, and areas of development that can truly impact future opportunities for this student.  My participation in this meeting is something I value, respect, and am truly invested in.  When one teaches, two learn, and as I struggled earlier in the week with something that I would not let get the best of me, I gained some further perspective...

You see, often we walk into our daily activities and responsibilities with an expectation.  "If we don't accomplish this then..."  If we don't hear back from X then..."  "If I don't get that job then..." and many, many more actions that can come into our space.  This can be a challenging process that often finds us punishing ourselves with what really we can not control.  Often we can be very hard on ourselves, judgmental in a manner that creates only more suffering.  So, I ask you, what is the expectation here?  What is it that you are striving to achieve? What's going to validate it for you?  I want you to think about all of this as it pertains to your experience(s), and use my example as an opportunity to find that opening that works for you. When you are able to stop, reflect, and see where you are at, it is much easier to recognize what you can control, and what you can not... 

My participation in this meeting and what I was able to give and receive (in the process) allowed me to put my week into perspective.  It allowed me to see that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.  It allowed me to recognize and appreciate that the expectation that I created for myself, the one that had me questioning what I could not control is exactly just that, my own.  Another opportunity to add to my work in progress, while continuing to trust the process.  It's all good when you are, everything else will work itself out as it should.  If it doesn't there is no need to worry or collapse, there is still an opportunity, as long as you can see it!  Be well to yourself as you move into your weekend.  If I have opened a door for you, then I have accomplished what I set out to do, the next step is all yours...

October 19, 2012

Who Am I...

Good day to all those that can hear me... I hope that the week you have been moving through has treated you well.  Providing you opportunities to learn, be challenged, grow, and overcome what may have initially appeared impossible to do so.  Today, I am inspired to write from that place that has me in thought, reflection, and the ability to visualize what may not be present, but I can see it becoming.  As I have ventured into this arena of expression and sharing I have been exposed to a tremendous amount of information, ideas, thoughts, education, and any and all that one can learn from others who are given the choice to put it out there.  With that being said I have taken note that some allow the reader an understanding of who the "person" behind the words is.  While others just give the facts, data, and knowledge at hand, with the idea that it will help, support, and teach, but for whatever reason (that is entirely theirs) the "person" is not presented in the writing.  This is where my thought went to when I thought about my opportunity here, who am I...  Let me point out that there is no ? attached to this statement.  The reason, it is not a question.  I know who I am quite clearly, in fact, so well that at times it is scary.

I am well.  I am strong.  I am able and willing.  I am focused and determined.  I am passionate and empathic.  I am sensitive and aware.  I am informed and engaged.  I am patient and honest.  I am selfless and giving.  I am all about doing the right thing.  These representations are just some of who I am, what I strive to be, and what keeps me trusting the process.  These qualities are what I put into my words and sharing, with only one goal:  to empower both the storyteller and reader.  So far, I am receiving exactly what I put out there, without overthinking the opportunity that I have given myself.  When I say "give" I know that I am moving in the right direction, once again embracing the idea that "when one teaches two learn."  I am without a doubt learning every day, and with this outcome I can clearly see how my effort, persistence, and resilience have indeed helped me move forward! 

As always I thank you for your availability and time.  I hope that I have allowed you to pause, reflect, and process where you are, where you want to go, and who you want to be. We don't often ask ourselves the questions that can help us help ourselves.  With that, there is always an opportunity to do something different or unfamiliar, as often the unexpected arrives when we just trust the process, don't overthink, just act.  Live it, love it, and work on it, everything else will move as you do!!!

  Who am I... 

 "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
~ Alexander Graham Bell

October 10, 2012

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

It doesn't take much effort to get to the information source these days.  It's just a matter of logging on and booting up and you can find out anything about anything.  Does it mean it is the truth, fact, or the kind of information that you would welcome?  Not necessarily, but it does give some direction, perspective, and our own interpretation as we see it.  As I reflected on the idea of "Self-Care" and what exactly that means, there was a need to share.  There are plenty of experts out there as it pertains to self-care and well-being.  However, the one who truly needs to be the master of this practice is yourself!  You can read, study, and learn everything you need to about self-care, but if you are not able, willing, or ready to practice it, then guess what?  YOU WON'T!  So I ask you, what exactly is Self-Care?

I hope that I now have you thinking, in a manner that has you open and available to receive.  You see, I really have something to share on this particular subject matter.  Like many out there I thought that I had this self-care thing under control.  I mean, I was healthier than most, maintained an active lifestyle, had great support systems, and guess what?  I was far from healthy, and in fact what I should of been focusing on and attending to, I was not.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time when the vehicle known as "Me" was going to break down.  Often in life our greatest learning comes directly as a result of being confronted with challenge.  When challenge hits us we are presented with some choices.  We can either embrace it and take steps toward changing for the better, or we can resist, avoid, and keep on doing what will only lead to more challenges.  I'm the first choice kind of guy, and because I am, I have been afforded so many wonderful learning, growth, and self-awareness opportunities.  Because I have chosen to fight on when I am hit with suffering, I have allowed myself to move forward...

So, let me now move you forward and toward the meaning behind this post and subject matter.  Self-Care is a practice that is a part of your daily life activities.  What that means is that you do it not only because you know it will keep you well, but because if you don't you will move farther away from the exact thing you are trying to reach.  You practice self-care because you can see the benefits of this in your actions, personal relationships, professional opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and so much more that you can achieve and receive.  Self-Care is what you make it, and when you get to that place and space where it is a daily practice, then it is by far the most important job you have!  To be well you have to work at it every day for the rest of your days. If this sounds like too much effort or work for you and you're just not feeling it, guess what?  You are right about one thing, it is the hardest work out there, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort, patience, and resilience to accomplish.  The experts can share the facts, data, and this or that model as it pertains to your wellness.  However, there is only one person who can change their quality of life for the better, and that person has to make a choice.   


Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?  It is what you make it to be.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, you either give yourself the opportunity to change for the better, or not.  Until we meet again you be well to yourself, because when you are, that person you see in the mirror will be the same person you are looking at.  Can You Hear Me?

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder oCan You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern  California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process. 

October 5, 2012

Learning Through The Eyes Of Vikki Brewster, MSW

The Learning Through Your Eyes Series was created because we recognized that the opportunity for helping professionals to share their story can be a powerful tool, one that provides an opening to empower and support both the storyteller and reader.  It teaches us in a manner that allows us to inspire and reach, educate and teach, and tap into that space and place that has intention, purpose, and action.  Our hope for all of those that can here us is that these stories will provide you with an opportunity to help you help yourself, whatever that may be, you always have a choice.  May this find you well as you strive to provide to those in need!

Today's story is told through the eyes of Vikki Brewster, a social worker who shares how she came into the field, the changes and influences that have shaped her practice, the challenges she faces serving and supporting the population she is passionate about, and the causes she now finds herself advocating for.  We thank Vikki for sharing while providing another opportunity to give and receive!

I still have the essay I wrote as part of my application for graduate school 17 years ago.  As I read it now, my ideals have not changed, just the demographic (I love working with seniors).  My original inspiration for going into the 'helping profession' was due to my time spent volunteering at a domestic violence shelter while I attended college part-time.  I worked primarily with the children at the shelter who were exposed to domestic violence.  I entertained them, listened to them, and was involved in group sessions with them.  Some of my happiest moments were making those children laugh.

Several years later I applied to graduate school to obtain my Master's in Social Work.  This was the best decision I made academically.  A social work degree was flexible.  I would have more choices for employment after graduation and I truly believed there would be few obstacles in my path.  The graduate program was amazing, the coursework exciting/enriching and the internships extremely beneficial.  Post graduation, I took the licensure exam and became a Certified Social Worker in the state of New York.  I was employed as a therapist with emotionally disturbed children for almost two years until I realized youth was not my niche.  I took a pay cut and decided to focus on case management with adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. This was a great experience, but again I realized not my niche. 

I married, moved to another country, and started over professionally.  As a spouse awaiting my permanent residency status in Canada, I was not allowed to work initially and volunteered with adults with developmental disabilities assisting with obtaining employment, as well as with seniors who where Holocaust Survivors.  The volunteer position turned into a part-time job.  Twelve and a half years later I still work primarily with Holocaust Survivors and enjoy my work!  I am able to do group facilitation, case management, assessments, home visits, provide short-term counseling, and I also edit a newsletter.  As my clients are aging, I see the challenges they face and what is lacking in the current healthcare system.  This has led me to End-of-Life issues, Palliative Care and an interest in healthcare.  I have come to see that there needs to be a shift and focus on allowing seniors to 'age in place' and the services must expand in order to do so.   Expansion obviously requires money from the government, both on a federal and provincial level.  Healthcare needs to shift to a Patient-Centered approach with professionals available to the patient in either a facility or clinic.  There is also a need for case managers to oversee the patients with chronic and complex health issues, while coordinating with the professionals that need to be involved in the patients overall care.

I have realized much with the work that I have been immersed into for many years now.  For one, end-of-life needs to become less taboo and society needs to realize that in the cycle of life-there must be death; to be born, one must die.  I feel that we need to let individuals die with dignity and at home if that is what they choose, while having the necessary professionals and services in place.  As a society we need to lighten up, reduce stress levels and find what makes us happy in life.  Again, a shift is needed and I believe this will happen; with less focus on materials things and more focus on human relationships, quality not quantity.   

I feel it is important that every professional re-evaluate their interests and find their passion, their niche population, their niche demographic.  As professionals we should also advocate within our profession for any needed updates or changes.  For example, many social workers have expressed their frustration with licensure and certification requirements and the fact that it is not national, the license or certificate is not transferable from state to state or province to province.

So, are their obstacles to face? Yes!  Politics involved?  Yes!  Is it all worth it?  Yes!

Vikki Brewster, MSW


 About Can You Hear Me?

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder of Can You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢